(With thanks to Kathleen Bergner)
Every so often, newspapers such as the Grauniad run a survey designed to find their readers' opinions as to the funniest/silliest/most horrible town in Britain. Almost invariably, the winner is Scunthorpe, a town whose name simply cannot be pronounced without provoking gales of laughter or retches of reminiscence (though Wigan runs it a close second).
So perhaps it is fortunate that the Duke of Wellington was not the Duke of Scunthorpe, otherwise the capital of New Zealand would be a laughing stock the world over and we would all be wearing Scunthorpe boots. Both Billy Connolly and Jon Clarke would have to sing "If it wasn't for your scunties..." - a phrasing that is less than lyrical.
Perhaps we should also be grateful to the Earl of Sandwich as well. Imagine eating scunthorpes for lunch! Particularly when well-wrapped in greaseproof paper. Or consider that in the cocktail hour you might have to drink scunthorpes instead of manhattans. Would the scunthorpe be shaken or stirred, I wonder?
If the Battle of Balaclava had been in Lincolnshire instead of the Crimea then maybe we'd have to pull a scunthorpe over our head when we wanted to rob a bank. Or if the Earl of Cardigan had been less wise in his choice of parents, perhaps we'd change into a comfortable scunthorpe when we got home from work.
Can you imagine a suit made of scunthorpe tweed? Would you put scunthorpe cheese on your crackers or eat a scunthorpe bun?
When you come home of an evening, would you say hello to the scunthorpe, tickle it under the chin, make a scunthorpe for tea, settle down in front of the scunthorpe to watch a scunthorpe, have a cup of scunthorpe and then (feeling tired) climb into your scunthorpe, switch on your electric scunthorpe, kiss the scunthorpe good night and settle down for a good scunthorpe (snoring occasionally, the while).
Scunthorpe me! Didnt we get off lightly?